Fèis Ìle 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and like many other events and festivals it was moved to an online format. One big aspect of a whisky festival is the festival bottlings and many festivals and distilleries retained their plans for a special bottling. Some replaced the original bottling with a different one like Bruichladdich, some didn’t release a bottling like Bowmore and some took their time to offer a festival bottling like the Diageo Islay based distilleries of Caol Ila and Lagavulin.
We don’t know what were the original plans for the 2020 festival bottling from Caol Ila but eventually it was revealed it’s a 16 Year Old Caol Ila finished in Amoroso sherry casks.
It was initially matured in Refill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Amoroso treated Hogsheads, all personally selected by Pierrick Guillaume the Distillery manager.
We’ve seen Amaroso finished whisky from Diageo in the form of Talisker Distillers Edition but it’s not too common out there.
Caol Ila 16 Year Old for Fèis Ìle 2020 (53.9%, 3000 bottles, £120)
Nose: Strong and a bit sour vanilla – almost lactic. Sour sweet bright berries. yellow plums and gooseberries, maritime with gentle smoke, sugared lemon peels, more vanilla, ripe yellow green grapes. After a long time in the glass it becomes sweeter with almonds and nuttiness. Continue reading
How do you know that your local single malt whisky market is healthy? That it’s growing and developing nicely? There are a few key factors to gauge this: breadth of brands and expressions on the shelves, also seeing on the shelves special and limited editions (beyond the core range offers) on a regular basis, market exclusive bottlings and eventually growth in the local independent bottlers segment.
Of the latter, we’ve seen offers from Goren’s Whisky, Holy Dram and now Vintage Whisky.
Vintage Whisky are the importers of Cadenhead and Asta Morris and now they are also an Independent bottler with a recently released Caol Ila 13 Year Old single cask whisky.
Hogshead #302307 was filled on March 29th 2006 and bottled on February 21st 2020, yielding 263 bottles at 55.6%
Caol Ila 2006 13 year old (55.6%, 499NIS)
Nose: Maritime bonanza, salty, brine, minerality and sea breeze. Vanilla, honey, hay, lemonade, lemongrass, soft smoke, cured meat and grapefruit juice. Lovely. Continue reading
Last month I reviewed the Port Askaig 10 Year Old that Elixir Distillers released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand but it wasn’t the only new Port Askaig release to celebrate the occasion. Along with the easily accessible and reasonably priced 10 Year Old whisky, came this 28 Year Old Port Askaig which carries a heftier price tag and a far more years on its belt.
Does this 28 Year Old also hails from Caol Ila? Let’s check it out.
Port Askaig 28 Year Old (45.8%, £295/318.90€)
Nose: Peated with sweet smoke, lemon, gentle tropical fruits, BBQ meat, vanilla, soft. After a few minutes there’s mint, floral perfume, more smoked meat and honey. Very much matured Caol Ila. Continue reading
The brand Port Askaig (From Elixir Distillers) is celebrating its 10th anniversary (Yes, it has been around for ten years already!). The first special celebratory release is a new ten year old Port Askaig.
There are 10,000 bottles, all from 33 casks. Some are classic refill American-oak hogsheads like thos used in Port Askaig 100 Proof, along with first-fill bourbon casks and ex-solera sherry casks.
This expression was bottled at unusual strength – 55.85% which also happens to be the geographical latitude of port askaig itself.
Port Askaig 10 Year Old (55.85%, £68.95/€65.95)
Nose: lively and kicking but also very fresh. There can be no doubt this is a Caol Ila with all those classic Caol Ila notes: lemon, honey, seafood and seaweed, sweet peat but there’s also saltiness and bitter almonds to balance the sweetness.
With a blink (and two days absence) I fall behind with my Feis Ile 2018 commemorative reviews. Let’s fix it as soon as possible…
Feis Ile third day belongs to Caol Ila, the largest distillery on Islay (production wise) and we’ll go with another Indie bottling – a 15 Year Old single cask bottling bottled by the SMWS.
The cask was distilled on 16.03.2000, filled into a Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead and was bottled in 2015, producing 270 bottles at 63.5%
SMWS 53.226 Teddy boys at the beach (63.5%)
picture credit: whiskybase.com
Nose: Feels heavy yet soft. Seawater smoke, dark honey, develops over time with lemon and brine pickled meat. Continue reading
Following the Glentauchers 2008 review that opened the weekend, we’ll end the weekend with another young whisky bottled for Whisky In Leiden 2017 festival.
And it’s one from the other side of the spectrum, opposite of the sherried Speyside there’s a peated Islay malt so nobody get bored. This whisky was distilled in May 2011, matured in refill hogshead (cask 9313) and bottled in early 2017, yielding 306 bottles.
The Exclusive Malts Islay Malt 2011 5 Year Old (Whisky in Leiden 2017) (57.7%, €54,99)
Nose: Sharp oak spices, malt and peat smoke, then honey and vanilla, dry yet very fresh and the smoke which is soft at first then getting sharper. Honey with lemon, then pears. Later on getting minerals and brine along with citrus peels. Continue reading
Today is Caol Ila day at Feis Ile 2017 and let me tell you something: Caol Ila may be the least sexy (or most boring – up for you to decide) distillery on Islay. We’re so familiar with their standard and unchanged lineup expressions and with no new expressions popping out from the distillery, it seems like Caol Ila is a bit forgotten. But let me tell you something: the spirit they produce at Caol Ila? It is underrated.
There are some jolly good whiskies coming out from those copper stills. Old Caol Ila whiskies are amazing and even the younger whiskies can be good.
Want a proof? Today’s whisky is your evidence. Initially I planned a review of te Official Caol Ila 25 yo which is more than decent and is available for purchase for a very decent price, but I ‘slipped’ and drank it all without writing notes. Oops.
So next Caol Ila on the shelf was this 19 year old Caol Ila bottled by SMWS. It’s a clear proof that Caol Ila whisky is good and also my first SMWS review in a long while. Damn I should review more of those!
SMWS 53.233 Fireman’s Gloves on a Mermaid (19 Year Old Caol Ila) (60.5%, 258 bottles)
Nose: Full of brine and salt, pudding-y, gentle peat smoke and bonfire smoke from afar, somewhat medicinal although it’s not laphroaig-esque and juicy. Continue reading
When a whisky is matured in 1st Fill Sherry Butts, you’d think it will sport dark color and big sherry notes in the whisky, but that’s not always the case because there are different kinds of sherry and different kind of casks.
Take for example this Caol Ila 2005 11 Year old from Gordon & Macphail. A vatting of 4 casks (Casks 301521, 301523, 301524 & 301527) that were all distilled on February 2005, lay asleep for a long time and then married together and bottled Last July. You wouldn’t think it’s a whisky matured in first fill sherry casks.
Caol Ila 2005 11 Year Old (Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength) (57.3%, £47.40/€69.95)
Nose: Classic Caol Ila peat smoke, red apples, lemon, smoke and saltiness, malt cereals, cream, cured meat and after a while some fruity fragrance. It’s a mellow nose and not a very complex one but it has structure and backbone. With a few drops of water it’s fruitier with more honey, a touch of pineapple, extra vanilla and pears, richer and stronger. Continue reading
Going back to Scotland after a short detour to SA, let’s check another one from the latest batch of The Whisky Exchange exclusives, a peated young Caol Ila.
It’s a 2007 vintage that was bottled in May 2016 making it a 8 Year Old whisky. 320 bottles were bottled from this 200L barrel thanks to a non cask strength ABV of 46%.
Caol Ila 2007 8 Year Old Signatory Vintage for TWE (46%, £55.95, Cask #315325)
It’s no news that Diageo release 2 affordable whiskies each year with their Special Releases annual series, The Lagavulin 12 and an unpeated release from Caol Ila.
The Lagavulin 12 2015 was already reviewed here (very favorable), so let’s check the other candidate this year: a 17 yo unpeated Caol Ila.
Interesting to see that it boast a jump of two years over last year’s release so it’s not coming from the same stock.
Caol Ila 17 Unpeated Style (Special Releases 2015) (55.9%, £89.95/€107/$144.99)
Nose: Dusty, oh so dusty, much more dusty than the 15 yo, that I had to re-check the bottle for whisky turbidity. Vanilla and honey, traces of peat smoke (even here you can’t really escape it ah?), pears, peaches and golden apples. After a few more minutes in the glass, it gets less dusty (although it’s still there in big way), sweeter and fruitier. Continue reading